SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The borough held its Diwali celebration Saturday, inviting members of the community to learn all about the Hindu festival of lights. The event was hosted by the South Plainfield Public Library and took at the South Plainfield Senior Center.

“Our goal is to make Diwali more accessible to our patrons, to help them understand it and to give them a chance to take part of such a beautiful celebration,” said Library Director Linda Hansen. Over 100 community members attended the event, Hansen said.

An instructor from South Plainfield’s Navrang Dance Academy taught dance moves, and several community members performed their own dances. A total of seven dances were performed by members of the community, including Classical Indian dance, Bollywood, and a Bollywood-Bellydancing hybrid.

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Other activities at the event included crafts, a photo booth, displays and artifacts, and a selection of foods from Indian restaurants in the community.

Ritu Ostawal of Princeton and Varsha Singh of Edison were both heavily involved in planning and decorating for this event, along with their children and fifteen teenage volunteers. Singh says celebrating Diwali allows more people to learn the significance of the festival.

“By celebrating Diwali we celebrate light, hope and the goodness in the world,” Singh said. “My hope is that by helping the library present a Diwali celebration we are also helping our neighbors in the community understand a little more about Indian culture and traditions.”

Echoing Singh, Ostawal said the Diwali celebration helps bring the community together.

“The lights of Diwali’s diyas fill our homes with happiness and prosperity, our hearts with love and our souls with enlightenment.  It brings me such joy to be able to be a part of bringing this experience to the community because sharing celebrations is one of the best way to bring people together.”

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the festival of lights, was celebrated in India over five days between October 25 and 29. The annual festival typically takes place between mid-October and mid-November.

“Deepavali is a festival where people from all age groups participate,” the festival’s official website says. “They give expression to their happiness by lighting earthen ‘diyas’ (lamps), decorating the houses, bursting firecrackers and inviting near and dear ones to their households for partaking in a sumptuous feast. The lighting of lamps is a way of paying obeisance to god for attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, valor and fame.”

“Lighting the lamp of knowledge within us means to understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of the five days of festivities and to bring those thoughts into the day to day lives,” the website says.